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Evidence of meeting #34 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rcmp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Foster  Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Gisèle Rivest  Officer in Charge, Operations of National Interest and International Corruption, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Christopher Dunford  Senior Research Fellow, Freedom from Hunger

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

But this situation would be where a Canadian company is asked for a bribe, wants to know what to do, and they come to you. There is a process in place to bring that to the attention of the relevant authorities in that country?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Oh yes.

I'm sorry, I'd misunderstood your question.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

My view, from having practised in commercial law for over 25 years in Canada, is that Canadian companies want to do the right thing, and from time to time they do get asked for these kinds of payments from foreign officials. They just want to know what they can do to protect themselves against any allegation that they're doing something improper. They want to know that they're playing on a level playing field with their foreign competitors.

The next question I have for you is if a Canadian company suspects that one of its foreign competitors is paying a bribe to a foreign government official in the third-party jurisdiction, can they report that fact to the RCMP?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

They could report that fact to the RCMP. They could report it to the police in the foreign jurisdiction, if they so chose. It would depend upon the actual jurisdiction.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

My experience has been that in some cases, in these particular types of jurisdictions, the Canadian business person would have the view that reporting that sort of thing in that jurisdiction would (a) probably not be very helpful and nothing much would be done about it, and (b) might be very harmful to their particular business interest.

What else could a Canadian company do? If they had that information that one of their foreign competitors was making this kind of a payment, I suppose they could go to the country of origin of that foreign competitor and report it there. Or is that something the RCMP would do for them?

Let's give an example. Let's say there was a Swiss company involved and it came to the attention of a Canadian company that there was a payment made by a Swiss company to a third-party government official. Would the RCMP, if it were given that information, then report that to the Swiss authorities?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Not necessarily. It would depend upon how credible that information might be, what it might line up with, and what supporting facts or documentation might be related to the particular complaint. We wouldn't necessarily immediately try to interfere with what might be a contracting process in a foreign jurisdiction where it's, say, an improper use of the police. There is occasion for public mischief.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Is there anything under the United Nations convention that would help a Canadian company in that situation? What I'm trying to get at, as I think you understand, is that Canadian companies every day are faced with these situations in which they know that in order to bid on a contract, their foreign competitors are making these kinds of payments. They don't want to make these payments, but they want to see a level playing field. Does the international law give them an ability to level that playing field?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

In some respects, the complaint process might; it would depend upon the particular circumstances. If there were an organization or government department involved, it could complain to the government department in that foreign country, to the police in the foreign country, or to corresponding government departments or police in Canada. There are some international organizations that you could also complain to. If it were something that involved an international loan from a multi-jurisdictional-supported banking operation, you could complain to that organization as well.

With a sufficient body of evidence or complaints, I would see that being actioned and as levelling the playing field.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

In your opening remarks you said that the convention requires each member state to establish a permanent anti-corruption body to enforce appropriate policies and to gather and disseminate knowledge and assist foreign partners to fight against corruption.

Does the RCMP provide any information to the Canadian public on these anti-corruption measures and Canada's participation in this convention?

4:10 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

I'll ask Staff Sergeant Rivest to answer this one.

4:10 p.m.

S/Sgt Gisèle Rivest Officer in Charge, Operations of National Interest and International Corruption, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Just this last year alone we did 72 presentations. In attendance were more than 6,000 people. These are to companies, to the mining industry, to schools as well. We're trying to get law professors interested and incorporating it into their curriculum.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Is this available on the RCMP website or some other website?

4:10 p.m.

Officer in Charge, Operations of National Interest and International Corruption, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

S/Sgt Gisèle Rivest

Yes. We have a pamphlet. I have a copy here, and you can get it on the website. We've distributed posters to make people aware.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Thank you, Mr. Dechert.

We'll move over to Mr. Schellenberger.

April 30th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you.

Thanks for your presentation today and for being here.

How prevalent are the issues of bribery and corruption in developing countries? What are the major challenges related to the work in these areas?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Do you mean the prevalence in terms of what Canadians see or the prevalence in terms of what might be seen globally by other—

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I mean in terms of what might be seen in these countries.

4:15 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

My understanding is that it can be quite prevalent. I don't have an actual measurement. Developing countries are at higher risk. Their public officials might not be paid enough and then are looking for additional sources of income. But I don't have anything that would tell you, here's the measurement of the risk in developing countries.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Okay.

When it comes to bribery and corruption, it's not only in developing countries that it happens; it can also be happening in developed countries. Is that correct?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

And maybe even more so?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

It could be happening in developed countries, and more so.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Are any industries more prone to this problem than others?

4:15 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

There are some, as I'm sure you're aware and have seen in the news, related to extractive industries, construction, government procurement.... Almost any transaction in which a large dollar value is going to be moved between two parties, whether domestically or internationally, presents an opportunity for corruption, so the opportunity is there.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

To what extent is the RCMP involved in outreach to Canadian private sector companies that are active in developing countries, as it works in this area?